Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Nevada County rejects controversial gold mining project

After years of controversy, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors unanimously struck down a Grass Valley gold mining project. … Rise Gold first submitted an application to resume gold mining operations at the Idaho Maryland Mine, which is in Grass Valley, in 2019. The site had been inactive since its closure in the 1950s, but Rise Gold said it had untapped potential.  But the company was quickly met with mass opposition. Christy Hubbard, a Grass Valley resident and volunteer for a couple local groups opposing the project … said she was particularly concerned with the potential for mining operations to contaminate or otherwise negatively impact local groundwater supply. As a member of the Wells Coalition, a local group of well owners, and an owner of a well herself, she worried mining could reduce water flows or contaminate them. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Agenda posted for Water 101 Workshop in April; optional groundwater tour nearly full

Don’t miss a once-a-year opportunity to attend our Water 101 Workshop on April 5 to gain a deeper understanding of California’s most precious natural resource. One of our most popular events, the daylong workshop at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento offers anyone new to California water issues or newly elected to a water district board — and really anyone who wants a refresher — a chance to gain a solid statewide grounding on California’s water resources. Some of state’s leading policy and legal experts are on the agenda for the workshop that details the historical, legal and political facets of water management in the state. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The push to ‘reactivate’ river floodplains in California

California has lost most of its natural wetlands as rivers have been cut off from their natural floodplains. And it’s pretty remarkable what can be achieved when rivers are given space to reconnect with floodplains. I learned more about opening up spaces for rivers to roam while working on an article about floodplain restoration efforts in the Central Valley. These types of projects have received broad-based support in recent years as an effective nature-based solution that can bring various interrelated benefits. They include: reducing the risks of flooding in vulnerable communities downstream; capturing and storing more water underground in aquifers; improving water quality; and helping to repair ecosystems.

Aquafornia news KVCR News

Judge rules to allow Arrowhead Spring bottler to continue taking water from San Bernardino mountains

A judge ruled last month to allow the company that bottles Arrowhead Spring Water to continue taking water from the San Bernardino National Forest. Activists are now calling on the Forest Service to stop the company’s operations. Fresno County Court Judge Robert Whalen on January 25 ruled to pause the state water board’s cease and desist order against BlueTriton Brands. BlueTriton took over Nestle’s operations in the national forest in 2021. The board last September stopped the company from extracting water from Strawberry Creek — the watershed in the forest that feeds local rivers, creeks and streams.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Water district between two counties and two subbasins forges its own groundwater sustainability path

The small Kern-Tulare Water District moved forward recently in breaking away from two other groundwater agencies to form its own independent groundwater sustainability agency (GSA). As the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) turns 10 this year and the 2040 deadline to bring aquifers into balance edges closer, groundwater agencies have splintered and reformed throughout the southern San Joaquin Valley. Most notably, the Kern Groundwater Authority which initially had 16 water district members,  reorganized as most of those members have broken off to form their own, or regional GSAs. Kern-Tulare, which covers 19,600 acres, and straddles two water subbasins and two counties, had always planned to go independent …

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Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County adopts groundwater recharge plan

The Butte County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the Butte County Recharge Action Plan during its meeting Tuesday in an effort to help bolster groundwater reserves throughout the region. Department of Water and Resource Conservation Director Kamie Loeser brought the item before the board with a presentation by Assistant Director Christina Buck, who helped head the project. Loeser said the plan was spurred by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order last year that loosened restrictions on collecting floodwater. After the order, Butte County put forth a letter of intent to create a project. … With the approval of the board, the plan will also be sent to the California Department of Water Resources. Buck said the plan was also derived from the considerable amount of stormy weather last year that led to flooding throughout the county, adding that the plan also culminates from data and studies conducted.

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Aquafornia news New York Times

From NYC to Miami, major cities along the East Coast are sinking

New satellite-based research reveals how land along the coast is slumping into the ocean, compounding the danger from global sea level rise. A major culprit: overpumping of groundwater. The most vulnerable areas of Boston have been sinking up to 3.8 centimeters per decade, which adds up to nearly 10 centimeters by 2050, based on the analysis of satellite data from 2007 to 2020. Parts of New York City and Long Island are sinking over 3 centimeters per decade. … The new research from Virginia Tech and the U.S. Geological Survey used satellite data to show the mounting threats to coastal communities. Nearly 40 percent of Americans live along coasts, where aging buildings, roads and rails face structural damage from floods.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Water management toolkit and playbook for the Kern

Few know it, but Kern County is one of the most progressive water management regions in the state, if not the world, drawing interest from those looking for creative ways to manage variable and often unpredictable water supplies. There are numerous examples of locally developed water management projects that allow water managers to deal with California’s highly variable hydrology more effectively. The crown jewel among these is the Kern Water Bank. This project, like all water banks, captures wet-year water (like 2023) and recharges it in the underground. This stored or banked water is recovered with wells and used to meet agricultural and urban demands during periods of drought.
-Written by Harry Starkey, a local water management professional with more than 30 years of experience. 

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Butte County supervisors to consider groundwater recharge plan

After sending a letter of intention to the California Department of Water Resources last June to begin collecting flood water, Butte County is looking to set a plan in motion. Butte County Water and Resource Conservation Assistant Director Christina Buck is set to give a presentation about the proposed Recharge Action Plan before the Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s meeting. According to the item attachment, the presentation will go over the plan’s recharge goal along with recommended actions. Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to simplify local jurisdictions’ abilities to claim floodwater for groundwater storage. The letter issued by the county to DWR was the first step in coming up with a long-term plan for the county to do just that.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona lawmakers advance rural-groundwater-regulation bill

On a party-line vote, an Arizona Senate Committee approved a bill Wednesday to establish a rural groundwater management setup that’s favored by many farming interest groups but opposed by many environmentalists and some rural community leaders. The bill, introduced by Buckeye Republican Sen. Sine Kerr, would establish a complex legal and governmental process to designate groundwater basin management areas with the goal of reducing groundwater depletion while maintaining the area’s economy and agricultural base. The Republican-led Senate Natural Resources, Energy and Water Committee voted 4-3 to support the measure. It would allow some mandatory conservation measures while still protecting existing farmers’ groundwater rights, as certified by the Arizona Department of Water Resources. It would also appropriate $40 million to ADWR to pay for unspecified measures for farmers to achieve better water conservation.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

US court bans three weedkillers and finds EPA broke law in approval process

Dealing a blow to three of the world’s biggest agrochemical companies, a US court this week banned three weedkillers widely used in American agriculture, finding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke the law in allowing them to be on the market. The ruling is specific to three dicamba-based weedkillers manufactured by Bayer, BASF and Syngenta, which have been blamed for millions of acres of crop damage and harm to endangered species and natural areas across the midwest and south. … Dicamba is also prone to drifting on the wind far from where it is applied. And it can move into drainage ditches and bodies of water as runoff during rain events. Monsanto, along with the chemical giant BASF, introduced new formulations of dicamba herbicides they said would not be as volatile, and they encouraged farmers to buy Monsanto’s newly created dicamba-tolerant crops. 

Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

SLO Beaver Brigade celebrates the semiaquatic rodent’s contributions to local ecosystems on Feb. 10 in Atascadero

Starting Feb. 10, beavers will have more eyes on them as the SLO Beaver Brigade and the Atascadero City Council team up to celebrate their contributions to California’s ecosystem. Beginning at 9 a.m. at the De Anza Trailhead in front of the Atascadero wastewater treatment facility, the Central Coast organization will unveil a new interpretive panel. SLO Beaver Brigade Executive Director Audrey Taub told New Times that two new interpretive panels and kiosks along the Juan Bautista De Anza Trail will display information on beaver habits. … Taub said these wetlands are a refuge for the local animals and serve as firebreaks for cities and towns along the Salinas River. To help fund these new interpretive panels, Taub said SLO Beaver Brigade received a Whale Tail Grant of a little more than $40,000 from the California Coastal Commission.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

How one of the nation’s fastest growing counties plans to find water in the desert

Like many places across the West, two things are on a collision course in Utah’s southwest corner: growth and water. Washington County’s population has quadrupled since 1990. St. George, its largest city, has been the fastest-growing metro area in the nation in recent years. And projections from the University of Utah say the county’s population — now at nearly 200,000 people — could double again by 2050. The region has essentially tapped out the Colorado River tributary it depends on now, the Virgin River. So, the big question is: where will the water for all those new residents come from? … The district’s 20-year plan comes down to two big ideas: reusing and conserving the water it already has.

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Aquafornia news Office of Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria

News release: Assemblywoman Soria introduces bill to boost groundwater recharge

Last week, Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria introduced AB 2060 to help divert local floodwater into regional groundwater basins. AB 2060 seeks to streamline the permitting process to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in support of Flood-MAR activities when a stream or river has reached flood-monitor or flood stage as determined by the California Nevada River Forecast Center or the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). This expedited approval process would be temporary during storm events with qualifying flows under the SWRCB permit.

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Aquafornia news CalMatters

Tracking California’s water supplies

After a rainy and snowy start of February, California’s water situation is starting to look promising for the year. All but one of the major reservoirs are storing in excess of 100% of their average, and five out of the 12 are nearing capacity, since they are over 75% full. Also, no part of the state is currently under drought conditions. But that doesn’t mean California no longer faces chronic water shortages. Droughts are becoming more common and more extreme as the climate crisis intensifies, and communities dependent on depleted underground aquifers and parched Colorado River supplies do not have enough water to meet the demands of their farms and cities. . … Last year’s Sierra Nevada snowpack tied with 1952 for the highest on record at the end of the snow season. So far this year, on Feb. 5, the snowpack was 72% of average for that date.

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Aquafornia news Pleasanton Weekly

Zone 7 constructs new monitoring wells at Ken Mercer Sports Park

The Zone 7 Water Agency completed the construction of two new monitoring wells at the Ken Mercer Sports Park in Pleasanton in early January that representatives said will help the agency detect PFAS contamination before it spreads any further. While there haven’t been any contaminants found in the area around the sports park along Hopyard Road, having these two wells will help warn the water agency before any contaminants seep into any wells with actual drinking water.

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Aquafornia news CleanTechnica

OpenET study helps water managers & farmers put NASA data to work

As the world looks for sustainable solutions, a system tapping into NASA satellite data for water management has passed a critical test. Called OpenET, the system uses an ensemble of six satellite-driven models that harness publicly available data from the Landsat program to calculate evapotranspiration (ET)—the movement of water vapor from soil and plant leaves into the atmosphere. OpenET does this on a field-level scale that is greatly improving the way farmers, ranchers, and water resource managers steward one of Earth’s most precious resources. Researchers have now conducted a large-scale analysis of how well OpenET is tracking evapotranspiration over crops and natural landscapes. The team compared OpenET data with measurements from 152 sites with ground-based instruments across the United States. In agricultural areas, OpenET calculated evapotranspiration with high accuracy, especially for annual crops such as wheat, corn, soy, and rice.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Farmers in Tulare County to test groundwater market they hope could help keep them in business and replenish the aquifer

How will selling groundwater help keep more groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley’s already critically overtapped aquifers? Water managers in the Kaweah subbasin in northwestern Tulare County hope to find out by having farmers tinker with a pilot groundwater market program. Kaweah farmers will be joining growers from subbasins up and down the San Joaquin Valley who’ve been looking at how water markets might help them maintain their businesses by using pumping allotments and groundwater credits as assets to trade or sell when water is tight.

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Aquafornia news ABC7 - Los Angeles

Here’s how Los Angeles captures and keeps all that rain to save up for next summer

All of that rain drenching Southern California this week has to end up somewhere – and LA County crews are doing their best to hold on to it for when we need it most. The county has 27 spreading grounds designed to capture rainwater and let it slowly percolate into the ground, to be stored and then drawn out for the summer. … Last winter’s intense storms kept the county’s groundwater basins well supplied. It was the county’s seventh wettest year on record in the last 150 years and more than 200 billion gallons of rainwater were captured - enough to supply 5 million people for a year.

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Aquafornia news NASA Earth Observatory

Tracking the invisible movement of water

As the world looks for sustainable solutions, a system tapping into NASA satellite data for water management has passed a critical test. Called OpenET, the system uses an ensemble of six satellite-driven models that harness publicly available data from the Landsat program to calculate evapotranspiration (ET)—the movement of water vapor from soil and plant leaves into the atmosphere. OpenET does this on a field-level scale that is greatly improving the way farmers, ranchers, and water resource managers steward one of Earth’s most precious resources. Researchers recently conducted a large-scale analysis of how well OpenET is tracking evapotranspiration over crops and natural landscapes.

Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Environmentalists see Nevada Supreme Court ruling bringing state’s water management ‘into the 21st century’

The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled last week that the state can restrict new groundwater pumping if it will impact other users and wildlife, a decision that strikes a blow to the plan of a developer that at one time hoped to build a new city of 250,000 people in the Mojave Desert and could shift how groundwater is managed in the driest U.S. state. The court’s ruling paves the way for Nevada’s water regulators to manage groundwater depletion throughout the state, an issue of increasing importance as flows from the Colorado River and the levels of many of the region’s aquifers decline. State regulators can now view surface water and groundwater as a single source—something that has not historically been done in the state or elsewhere in the Southwest.

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Aquafornia news KTAR - Phoenix

Arizona agency exploring options for groundwater management

The Arizona Department of Water Resources kicked off an informal process to establish a new groundwater management area in Gila Bend on Tuesday. The new Active Management Area (AMA) could be set up in the Gila Bend Groundwater Basin, which is around the town of the same name southwest of the Valley. The purpose of establishing an AMA is to preserve long-term water levels. If the plan goes through, it would be is the first time ADWR will establish a new groundwater management area in four decades. Authorities last established active management areas with the 1980 Arizona Groundwater Code. ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke said his department wants to establish an AMA in Gila Bend because its water levels are in severe decline.

Aquafornia news WaterWorld

EMWD interview talks groundwater desalination

In the latest episode of Dropping By from Stormwater Solutions, Joe Mouawad, general manager of the Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) talks about EMWD’s emphasis on groundwater desalination. EMWD is the sixth largest water retailer in the state of California and serves the fastest growing region in the entire state. The district is making significant investments in drought-resilient water supplies. One of those investments is in groundwater desalination. The district’s groundwater desalination effort is part of its Groundwater Reliability Plus initiative. As part of EMWD’s efforts to improve is drought resilience, the district conveys brackish groundwater to a reverse osmosis facility.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

New study: California’s water woes are uniquely dire — but there’s also good news

… In a study published January 24 in the journal Nature, scientists produced the first global record of groundwater evolution over the last half-century. They found that water stores across the world are evaporating faster and faster, and that California is a global hotspot for groundwater decline. … When the map was complete, it clearly showed that aquifers the world over are depleting at alarming and increasing rates. The data, which is finer-scale than previous, satellite-based studies, reveals how local differences in management and climate can lead to dry wells only miles away from flourishing ones. Differences across our state demonstrate this. The Cuyama Valley, in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley, ranked 34th among the world’s most precipitous declines in the study. The farmland around Sacramento, however, is faring much better, since water pumped out for consumption by people and crops is largely replenished by seasonal precipitation.

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Santa Ynez River Basin awarded $5M grant from California Department of Water Resources

Three Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Sustainability agencies will receive $5.5 million in state funding from the California Department of Water Resources. The funds will aid in the implementation and management of groundwater sustainability projects that benefit the communities of Santa Ynez and Lompoc and nearby agricultural lands. … The Santa Ynez River Valley Groundwater Basin stretches from several miles east of Cachuma Lake along the riverbed to Vandenberg Space Force Base, and multiple cities, services districts and others have a stake in its waters. Because of its size and the multiple jurisdictions involved, three groundwater management agencies — the Eastern, Central and Western — were formed to develop sustainability plans for their areas. Eight agencies and various stakeholders will reportedly collaborate in the implementation of sustainable groundwater initiatives affecting the Santa Ynez Basin.

Aquafornia news Sacramento News and Review

New wells tap into huge water storage possibilities: Roseville unveils two facilities that will boost its groundwater reserves

If Northern California has another wet winter, Roseville is ready to save some of that rain for later. The City of Roseville recently dedicated two new Aquifer and Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells. These specialized wells allow the City to not only pump water up for use, but to recharge its groundwater basin. It’s like putting water in the bank. And that basin is huge—double the size of Folsom Reservoir. Roseville and its water partners now have access to 1.8 million acre feet of potential groundwater storage space. At full capacity, Folsom Reservoir holds about 975,000 acre feet. Each acre foot can supply three typical homes for a year.

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Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Friday Top of the Scroll: Nevada Supreme Court backs state engineers in water management case

The Nevada Supreme Court has affirmed the state engineer’s authority to merge multiple water basins into one hydrographic “superbasin,” a decision that could profoundly affect groundwater management in the state and overrides a lower court’s finding that the state engineer had overstepped its authority. At the heart of the dispute was State Engineer Order 1309, which proposed combining seven basins into a single entity. This initiative aimed to address concerns about groundwater overappropriation in Nevada, particularly in an area northeast of Las Vegas where developers envisioned a new city. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

State nitrate program expands but public participation is still lacking

After three years, more of the Central Valley is being folded into the state’s nitrate control program. But program managers and environmental justice advocates say there are still serious problems with outreach.  The state’s nitrate control program launched in 2021. It offers free well testing and water deliveries for residents whose wells test over the limit for nitrates. The program is mandated by the State Water Resources Control Board and funded by nitrate polluters throughout the valley. Nitrates can be harmful to pregnant women and infants. Nitrates have infiltrated drinking water supplies in the valley from farming fertilizers, septic tanks, dairies and other wastewater sources.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: Remaking Cadiz in the name of environmental justice

It’s hard to think of a California company that carries more toxic baggage than Cadiz Inc. The Los Angeles firm has been trying for more than 20 years to advance a plan to siphon water from under the Mojave Desert and pump it to users throughout Southern California. It has long been stymied by environmental objections, but kept on life support by wielding political influence and regular financings such as private stock placements and junk bond-rated debt. Now Cadiz is trying a new tack. Under its newly installed chief executive, the veteran government aide Susan Kennedy, it has affiliated itself with the so-called human right to water movement, which ties the inaccessibility of clean water for disadvantaged communities to other social justice quests such as developing more affordable housing.
-Written by Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik.

Aquafornia news CalMatters

Thursday Top of the Scroll: California ranks high worldwide for rapidly depleted groundwater

In a sign of the ongoing threats to its precious groundwater stores, half a dozen regions in California rank among the world’s most rapidly declining aquifers, according to research published [Wednesday]. Globally, lack of local water drives migration, poverty, starvation and violence — while in California, it drives decades-long regulatory battles over how to stop over-pumping by growers. … The research revealed that rapidly declining groundwater basins are virtually non-existent in places with no farming. Heavily-farmed regions in drier climates, such as the San Joaquin Valley, Iran and parts of India, are especially hard hit. 

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Local agencies need more than “words on paper” from the state to help fight drought and flood

A Tulare County official who’s faced multiple droughts and devastating floods over the past decade appreciated the California Water Commission’s latest “policy paper” on how best to respond to such calamities but she had some advice of her own for the state: Locals need resources – money, equipment, personnel – not just “words on paper.” Beyond immediate response needs, valley communities need state help to build more water storage and conveyance, said Denise England, water resources director in Tulare County.  Tulare has been ground zero for dry wells during the state’s two most recent crippling droughts. Entire communities, such as Teviston, East Porterville, Tooleville and others, have lost water for months on end and, in fact, some areas of the rural county are still relying on delivered water.

Aquafornia news Nature Communications

New study: Greenhouse gas emissions from US irrigation pumping and implications for climate-smart irrigation policy

Irrigation reduces crop vulnerability to drought and heat stress and thus is a promising climate change adaptation strategy. However, irrigation also produces greenhouse gas emissions through pump energy use. To assess potential conflicts between adaptive irrigation expansion and agricultural emissions mitigation efforts, we calculated county-level emissions from irrigation energy use in the US using fuel expenditures, prices, and emissions factors. Irrigation pump energy use produced 12.6 million metric tonnes CO2e in the US in 2018 (90% CI: 10.4, 15.0), predominantly attributable to groundwater pumping. Groundwater reliance, irrigated area extent, water demand, fuel choice, and electrical grid emissions intensity drove spatial heterogeneity in emissions. … Previous studies have estimated on-farm irrigation pump energy use at 158 PJ nationally and 136 PJ for electricity use in the Western USA, in close agreement with our estimates. 

Aquafornia news Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, University of California

Blog: The cost-effectiveness of using rebates to incentivize groundwater recharge

Managed aquifer recharge has emerged as a popular supply-side management tool for basins facing groundwater overdraft. We studied the effectiveness of an incentive structure similar to net energy metering that subsidizes private parties who conduct recharge on their land. A pilot program in the Pajaro Valley demonstrates that the strategy is more cost effective than many other groundwater management options.

Aquafornia news California Water Boards

News release: Central Valley Water Board expands innovative safe drinking water program to eight more geographic zones

Three years after the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board launched a novel program that has brought replacement drinking water to more than 1,200 households with nitrate-impacted wells in designated areas of the Central Valley, the regional board is expanding the program to new areas in eight groundwater basins. The Central Valley Water Board recently mailed 938 Notices to Comply to permit holders in these areas, known as Priority 2 management zones within its Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) program. Collectively, these notices affect dischargers – growers, dairies, industrial facilities and wastewater plants – in the following basins: Delta-Mendota, Eastern San Joaquin, Madera, Merced, Kern County (Poso), Kern County (West-side South), Tulare Lake and Yolo. These entities are now required to begin testing potentially impacted domestic wells and to provide free replacement drinking water where nitrates are found to exceed health standards.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: State, local water agencies achieve major milestone in efforts to ensure groundwater sustainability statewide

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) marked a major milestone in long-term water supply management efforts Thursday with the completion of the review process of groundwater sustainability plans for high and medium priority groundwater basins in the state. The plans were prepared and submitted at the local level for the first time, ensuring that communities near these precious resources have a significant role in ensuring their sustainability. … In the final round of reviews for 17 plans released today, DWR has approved ten plans, and deemed seven plans incomplete.

Aquafornia news Red Bluff Daily News

Tehama County, Red Bluff to tackle groundwater pollution near residential wells

Tehama County and Red Bluff are working to provide clean water to Antelope Boulevard. In 2011, Red Bluff and the Tehama County Board of Supervisors created a Joint Powers Authority to specifically evaluate and develop a plan to mitigate groundwater pollution in the Antelope Boulevard area, according to the county. The Antelope Boulevard area has several hundred private and community domestic wells within about 1,100 acres or less than 2 square miles. Most wells are located near it among privately owned septic systems.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Tule River Tribe reintroducing beavers to Tulare County

Some time this spring, beavers will return to the ancestral lands of the Tule River Tribe in the Southern Sierra Nevada. It will be a moment tribal leaders have spent a decade preparing for, hoping the once thriving and now missing aquatic rodent can help return the forest’s natural drought resistance … Beaver dams naturally filter silt that otherwise clogs streams, while creating wetlands that preserve water on the land for longer periods. As beavers were wiped out, the waterways no longer reached ancient floodplains. This has led to increasing pollution and erosion, as well as more flooding and drought.

Aquafornia news Axios Phoenix

Arizona’s Buckeye and Queen Creek could become designated water providers under Hobbs’ plan

Plans are in the works to renew certification for new housing that was halted over groundwater shortages in two of the Valley’s fastest growing areas … [Arizona] Gov. Katie Hobbs last June announced a moratorium on new subdivisions in the Phoenix area that rely solely on groundwater, a policy that primarily affected the booming suburbs of Buckeye and Queen Creek. Arizona’s 1980 Groundwater Management Act requires subdivisions in several major population centers to show they have at least a 100-year water supply. The announcement raised questions nationally about whether Arizona has enough water to support its population growth. 

Aquafornia news Cerritos Community News

Cancer-causing PFAS cleanup continues for Marine air base near Tustin

With hanger fires out at the former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin, the U.S. Navy’s ground-water cleanup of carcinogenic contaminants continues and is likely for many years to come. According to Navy subject matter experts, the Navy has known that certain PFAS are present in ground-water associated with former MCAS Tustin for over 6 ½ years. Currently, the Navy is investigating the nature and extent of the cancer-causing chemicals and their impact on the soil and ground-water associated with the military base. 

Aquafornia news Nature World News

Groundwater depletion threatens food security in the US, researchers warn

Groundwater is under increasing pressure from human activities and climate change. Many aquifers around the world are being overexploited, meaning that more water is withdrawn than replenished by natural processes. This leads to groundwater depletion, which lowers the water table, reduces the water quality, and increases the risk of land subsidence and saltwater intrusion. Furthermore, climate change affects the availability and distribution of groundwater, as it alters the patterns of precipitation, evaporation, and runoff. Climate change also exacerbates the demand for groundwater, as it increases the frequency and intensity of droughts and heat waves, and reduces the reliability of surface water sources.

Foundation Event Nick Gray Jenn Bowles Thomas Harter

Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture
3ʳᵈ International Conference Linking Science & Policy

Click here to register!

Join us June 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport for the 3ʳᵈ International Conference, Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture: Linking Science & Policy. Organized by the Water Education Foundation and the UC Davis Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair, the conference will provide scientists, policymakers, agricultural and environmental interest group representatives, government officials and consultants with the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world.

Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
1333 Bayshore Hwy
Burlingame, CA 94010
Western Water Nick Cahill California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater By Nick Cahill

New California Law Bolsters Groundwater Recharge as Strategic Defense Against Climate Change
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Designates Aquifers 'Natural Infrastructure' to Boost Funding for Water Supply, Flood Control, Wildlife Habitat

Groundwater recharge in Madera CountyA new but little-known change in California law designating aquifers as “natural infrastructure” promises to unleash a flood of public funding for projects that increase the state’s supply of groundwater.

The change is buried in a sweeping state budget-related law, enacted in July, that also makes it easier for property owners and water managers to divert floodwater for storage underground.

High-Tech Mapping of Central Valley’s Underground Blazes Path to Drought Resilience
Aerial Surveillance Reveals Best Spots to Store Floodwater for Dry Times but Delivering the Surplus Remains Thorny

Helicopter towing an AEM loopA new underground mapping technology that reveals the best spots for storing surplus water in California’s Central Valley is providing a big boost to the state’s most groundwater-dependent communities.

The maps provided by the California Department of Water Resources for the first time pinpoint paleo valleys and similar prime underground storage zones traditionally found with some guesswork by drilling exploratory wells and other more time-consuming manual methods. The new maps are drawn from data on the composition of underlying rock and soil gathered by low-flying helicopters towing giant magnets.

The unique peeks below ground are saving water agencies’ resources and allowing them to accurately devise ways to capture water from extreme storms and soak or inject the surplus underground for use during the next drought.

“Understanding where you’re putting and taking water from really helps, versus trying to make multimillion-dollar decisions based on a thumb and which way the wind is blowing,” said Aaron Fukuda, general manager of the Tulare Irrigation District, an early adopter of the airborne electromagnetic or AEM technology in California.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2024
Field Trip - March 13-15

SOLD OUT – Click here to join the waitlist!

Tour participants gathered for a group photo in front of Hoover DamExplore the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South
7830 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89123

California Water Agencies Hoped A Deluge Would Recharge Their Aquifers. But When It Came, Some Couldn’t Use It
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: January storms jump-started recharge projects in badly overdrafted San Joaquin Valley, but hurdles with state permits and infrastructure hindered some efforts

An intentionally flooded almond orchard in Tulare CountyIt was exactly the sort of deluge California groundwater agencies have been counting on to replenish their overworked aquifers.

The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.    

Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland. Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.

Tour Nick Gray

Eastern Sierra Tour 2023
Field Trip - September 12-15

This special Foundation water tour journeyed along the Eastern Sierra from the Truckee River to Mono Lake, through the Owens Valley and into the Mojave Desert to explore a major source of water for Southern California, this year’s snowpack and challenges for towns, farms and the environment.

Grand Sierra Resort
2500 E 2nd St
Reno, NV 89595

Northern California Tour 2023
Field Trip - October 18-20

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833

Could Virtual Networks Solve Drinking Water Woes for California’s Isolated, Disadvantaged Communities?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: UCLA pilot project uses high-tech gear in LA to remotely run clean-water systems for small communities in Central California's Salinas Valley

UCLA’s remote water treatment systems are providing safe tap water to three disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. A pilot program in the Salinas Valley run remotely out of Los Angeles is offering a test case for how California could provide clean drinking water for isolated rural communities plagued by contaminated groundwater that lack the financial means or expertise to connect to a larger water system.

As New Deadline Looms, Groundwater Managers Rework ‘Incomplete’ Plans to Meet California’s Sustainability Goals
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: More than half of the most critically overdrawn basins, mainly in the San Joaquin Valley, are racing against a July deadline to retool their plans and avoid state intervention

A field in Kern County is irrigated by sprinkler.Managers of California’s most overdrawn aquifers were given a monumental task under the state’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Craft viable, detailed plans on a 20-year timeline to bring their beleaguered basins into balance. It was a task that required more than 250 newly formed local groundwater agencies – many of them in the drought-stressed San Joaquin Valley – to set up shop, gather data, hear from the public and collaborate with neighbors on multiple complex plans, often covering just portions of a groundwater basin.

Northern California Tour 2022
Field Trip - October 12-14

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720
Announcement

Join Online Groundwater Short Course Starting May 12
Check out our monthly events calendar for details on this course and other water events in California

Photo of groundwater gushing into a percolation basin An online short course starting Thursday will provide registrants the opportunity to learn more about how groundwater is monitored, assessed and sustainably managed.

The class, offered by University of California, Davis and several other organizations in cooperation with the Water Education Foundation, will be held May 12, 19, 26 and June 2, 16 from 9 a.m. to noon.

New EPA Regional Administrator Tackles Water Needs with a Wealth of Experience and $1 Billion in Federal Funding
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Martha Guzman says surge of federal dollars offers 'greatest opportunity' to address longstanding water needs, including for tribes & disadvantaged communities in EPA Region 9

EPA Region 9 Administrator Martha Guzman.Martha Guzman recalls those awful days working on water and other issues as a deputy legislative secretary for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. California was mired in a recession and the state’s finances were deep in the red. Parks were cut, schools were cut, programs were cut to try to balance a troubled state budget in what she remembers as “that terrible time.”

She now finds herself in a strikingly different position: As administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 9, she has a mandate to address water challenges across California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and $1 billion to help pay for it. It is the kind of funding, she said, that is usually spread out over a decade. Guzman called it the “absolutely greatest opportunity.”

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2023
Field Trip - March 8-10

This tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

This tour guided participants on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

Groundwater Management Requirements Spark Innovative Approaches to Reach Sustainability
A 'Craigslist' for water, flooding farms to feed the aquifer, and turning farmland into habitat to aid wildlife and groundwater

An example of a water-trading platform in Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District in Kern County.

The San Joaquin Valley has a big hill to climb in reaching groundwater sustainability. Driven by the need to keep using water to irrigate the nation’s breadbasket while complying with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, people throughout the valley are looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to manage and use groundwater more wisely. Here are three examples.

Western Water By Gary Pitzer

Explainer: The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: The Law, The Judge And The Enforcer

The Resource

A groundwater pump in the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater provides about 40 percent of the water in California for urban, rural and agricultural needs in typical years, and as much as 60 percent in dry years when surface water supplies are low. But in many areas of the state, groundwater is being extracted faster than it can be replenished through natural or artificial means.

In the Heart of the San Joaquin Valley, Two Groundwater Sustainability Agencies Try to Find Their Balance
WESTERN WATER SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies in Fresno, Tulare counties pursue different approaches to address overdraft and meet requirements of California’s groundwater law

Flooding permanent crops seasonally, such as this vineyard at Terranova Ranch in Fresno County, is one innovative strategy to recharge aquifers.Across a sprawling corner of southern Tulare County snug against the Sierra Nevada, a bounty of navel oranges, grapes, pistachios, hay and other crops sprout from the loam and clay of the San Joaquin Valley. Groundwater helps keep these orchards, vineyards and fields vibrant and supports a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy across the valley. But that bounty has come at a price. Overpumping of groundwater has depleted aquifers, dried up household wells and degraded ecosystems.

Announcement

Water Leaders Alumni: Stay In Touch With Each Other and The Foundation
Join LinkedIn alumni group for networking, program news and more!

Since 1997, more than 430 engineers, farmers, environmentalists, lawyers, and others have graduated from our William R. Gianelli Water Leaders program. We’ve developed a new alumni network webpage to help program participants connect and keep in touch.

Announcement

Join Online Groundwater Short Course Starting May 21st
See our events calendar for details & register today!

An online short course starting Thursday will provide registrants the opportunity to learn more about how groundwater is monitored, assessed and sustainably managed.

The class, offered by UC Davis and several other organizations in cooperation with the Water Education Foundation, will be held May 21 and 28, June 4, 18, and 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

With Sustainability Plans Filed, Groundwater Agencies Now Must Figure Out How To Pay For Them
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: California's Prop. 218 taxpayer law and local politics could complicate efforts to finance groundwater improvement projects

A groundwater monitoring well in Colusa County, north of Sacramento. The bill is coming due, literally, to protect and restore groundwater in California.

Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in California spent months putting together plans to show how they will achieve balance in about 20 years.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Announcement

Agenda Posted for Oct. 30 Water Summit; Join the Waitlist!
Keynote speakers include California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Scripps Atmospheric River Researcher Marty Ralph

A diverse roster of top policymakers and water experts are on the agenda for the Foundation’s 36th annual Water Summit. The conference, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning, will feature compelling conversations reflecting on upcoming regulatory deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in the face of natural disasters.

Tickets for the Water Summit are sold out, but by joining the waitlist we can let you know when spaces open via cancellations.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Gary Pitzer

Recharging Depleted Aquifers No Easy Task, But It’s Key To California’s Water Supply Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: A UC Berkeley symposium explores approaches and challenges to managed aquifer recharge around the West

A water recharge basin in Southern California's Coachella Valley. To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy task.

Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though, landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally recharged.

Announcement

Water Summit Panel to Focus on Nexus of Fire and Water in the Wildland-Urban Interface
Oct. 30 Event Will Feature the Latest on Policy, Planning and Management from Key Stakeholders, Experts

California experienced one of the most deadly and destructive wildfire years on record in 2018, with several major fires occurring in the wildland-urban interface (WUI). These areas, where communities are in close proximity to undeveloped land at high risk of wildfire, have felt devastating effects of these disasters, including direct impacts to water infrastructure and supplies.

One panel at our 2019 Water Summit Oct. 30 in Sacramento will feature speakers from water agencies who came face-to-face with two major fires: The Camp Fire that destroyed most of the town of Paradise in Northern California, and the Woolsey Fire in the Southern California coastal mountains. They’ll talk about their experiences and what lessons they learned. 

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

Often Short of Water, California’s Southern Central Coast Builds Toward A Drought-Proof Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Water agencies in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties look to seawater, recycled water to protect against water shortages

The spillway at Lake Cachuma in central Santa Barbara County. Drought in 2016 plunged its storage to about 8 percent of capacity.The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.

Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.

Announcement

Scripps Scientist Marty Ralph to Discuss Atmospheric Rivers in Opening Keynote at Water Summit
Early bird pricing ends today for the 2019 Water Summit “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning"

Oroville Dam spillway emergencyAtmospheric rivers, the narrow bands of moisture that ferry precipitation across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast, are necessary to keep California’s water reservoirs full.

However, some of them are dangerous because the extreme rainfall and wind can cause catastrophic flooding and damage, much like what happened in 2017 with Oroville Dam’s spillway.

Learn the latest about atmospheric river research and forecasting at our 2019 Water Summit on Oct. 30 in Sacramento, where prominent research meteorologist Marty Ralph will give the opening keynote.

Announcement

Oct. 30 Water Summit to Feature Panel About Key Groundwater Issues as SGMA Deadline Approaches
Attend and learn how water managers are working toward sustainable groundwater management in California

With a key deadline for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in January, one of the featured panels at our Oct. 30th  Water Summit will focus on how regions around California are crafting groundwater sustainability plans and working on innovative ways to fill aquifers.

The theme for this year’s Water Summit, “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflects critical upcoming events in California water, including the imminent Jan. 31, 2020 deadline for groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) in high- and medium-priority basins.

Announcement

Stay Up To Date With Upcoming Groundwater Events Via Our Calendar
We track relevant tours, symposia, conferences and more for your convenience

Our event calendar is an excellent resource for keeping up with water events in California and the West.

Groundwater is top of mind for many water managers as they prepare to meet next January’s deadline for submitting sustainability plans required under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We have several upcoming featured events listed on our calendar that focus on a variety of relevant groundwater topics:

Announcement

Registration Now Open for the 36th Annual Water Summit; Take Advantage of Early Bird Discount by Registering Today
Join us Oct. 30 for key conversations on water in California and the West

Registration opens today for the Water Education Foundation’s 36th annual Water Summit, set for Oct. 30 in Sacramento. This year’s theme, Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning, reflects fast-approaching deadlines for the State Groundwater Management Act as well as the pressing need for new approaches to water management as California and the West weather intensified flooding, fire and drought. To register for this can’t-miss event, visit our Water Summit event page.

Registration includes a full day of discussions by leading stakeholders and policymakers on key issues, as well as coffee, materials, gourmet lunch and an outdoor reception by the Sacramento River that will offer the opportunity to network with speakers and other attendees. The summit also features a silent auction to benefit our Water Leaders program featuring items up for bid such as kayaking trips, hotel stays and lunches with key people in the water world.

Western Water California Water Map

Your Don’t-Miss Roundup of Summer Reading From Western Water

Dear Western Water reader, 

Clockwise, from top: Lake Powell, on a drought-stressed Colorado River; Subsidence-affected bridge over the Friant-Kern Canal in the San Joaquin Valley;  A homeless camp along the Sacramento River near Old Town Sacramento; Water from a desalination plant in Southern California.Summer is a good time to take a break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting a chance to do plenty of that this July.

But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned for later this year, we want to help you catch up on Western Water stories from the first half of this year that you might have missed. 

Announcement

2019 Water Summit Theme Announced – Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning
Join us October 30 in Sacramento for our premier annual event

Sacramento RiverOur 36th annual Water Summit, happening Oct. 30 in Sacramento, will feature the theme “Water Year 2020: A Year of Reckoning,” reflecting upcoming regulatory deadlines and efforts to improve water management and policy in the face of natural disasters.

The Summit will feature top policymakers and leading stakeholders providing the latest information and a variety of viewpoints on issues affecting water across California and the West.

Western Water California Water Map Gary Pitzer

California’s New Natural Resources Secretary Takes on Challenge of Implementing Gov. Newsom’s Ambitious Water Agenda
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Wade Crowfoot addresses Delta tunnel shift, Salton Sea plan and managing water amid a legacy of conflict

Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary.One of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first actions after taking office was to appoint Wade Crowfoot as Natural Resources Agency secretary. Then, within weeks, the governor laid out an ambitious water agenda that Crowfoot, 45, is now charged with executing.

That agenda includes the governor’s desire for a “fresh approach” on water, scaling back the conveyance plan in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and calling for more water recycling, expanded floodplains in the Central Valley and more groundwater recharge.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

As Deadline Looms for California’s Badly Overdrafted Groundwater Basins, Kern County Seeks a Balance to Keep Farms Thriving
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Sustainability plans required by the state’s groundwater law could cap Kern County pumping, alter what's grown and how land is used

Water sprinklers irrigate a field in the southern region of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County.Groundwater helped make Kern County the king of California agricultural production, with a $7 billion annual array of crops that help feed the nation. That success has come at a price, however. Decades of unchecked groundwater pumping in the county and elsewhere across the state have left some aquifers severely depleted. Now, the county’s water managers have less than a year left to devise a plan that manages and protects groundwater for the long term, yet ensures that Kern County’s economy can continue to thrive, even with less water.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Flood Management Gary Pitzer

Southern California Water Providers Think Local in Seeking to Expand Supplies
WESTERN WATER SIDEBAR: Los Angeles and San Diego among agencies pursuing more diverse water portfolio beyond imports

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Desalination Plant in Carlsbad last December marked 40 billion gallons of drinking water delivered to San Diego County during its first three years of operation. The desalination plant provides the county with more than 50 million gallons of water each day.Although Santa Monica may be the most aggressive Southern California water provider to wean itself from imported supplies, it is hardly the only one looking to remake its water portfolio.

In Los Angeles, a city of about 4 million people, efforts are underway to dramatically slash purchases of imported water while boosting the amount from recycling, stormwater capture, groundwater cleanup and conservation. Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 announced a plan to reduce the city’s purchase of imported water from Metropolitan Water District by one-half by 2025 and to provide one-half of the city’s supply from local sources by 2035. (The city considers its Eastern Sierra supplies as imported water.)

Western Water Groundwater Education Bundle Gary Pitzer

Imported Water Built Southern California; Now Santa Monica Aims To Wean Itself Off That Supply
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Santa Monica is tapping groundwater, rainwater and tighter consumption rules to bring local supply and demand into balance

The Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF) treats dry weather urban runoff to remove pollutants such as sediment, oil, grease, and pathogens for nonpotable use.Imported water from the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River built Southern California. Yet as drought, climate change and environmental concerns render those supplies increasingly at risk, the Southland’s cities have ramped up their efforts to rely more on local sources and less on imported water.

Far and away the most ambitious goal has been set by the city of Santa Monica, which in 2014 embarked on a course to be virtually water independent through local sources by 2023. In the 1990s, Santa Monica was completely dependent on imported water. Now, it derives more than 70 percent of its water locally.

Key California Ag Region Ponders What’s Next After Voters Spurn Bond to Fix Sinking Friant-Kern Canal
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Subsidence chokes off up to 60% of canal’s capacity to move water to aid San Joaquin Valley farms and depleted groundwater basins

Water is up to the bottom of a bridge crossing the Friant-Kern Canal due to subsidence caused by overpumping of groundwater. The whims of political fate decided in 2018 that state bond money would not be forthcoming to help repair the subsidence-damaged parts of Friant-Kern Canal, the 152-mile conduit that conveys water from the San Joaquin River to farms that fuel a multibillion-dollar agricultural economy along the east side of the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

Women Leading in Water, Colorado River Drought and Promising Solutions — Western Water Year in Review

Dear Western Water readers:

Women named in the last year to water leadership roles (clockwise, from top left): Karla Nemeth, director, California Department of Water Resources; Gloria Gray,  chair, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Brenda Burman, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner; Jayne Harkins,  commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. and Mexico; Amy Haas, executive director, Upper Colorado River Commission.The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.

These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.

We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:

Central Coast Tour 2019
Field Trip - November 6-7

This 2-day, 1-night tour offered participants the opportunity to learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies that have potential applications statewide.

Western Water California Water Map Layperson's Guide to the State Water Project Gary Pitzer

As He Steps Aside, Tim Quinn Talks About ‘Adversarialists,’ Collaboration and Hope For Solving the State’s Tough Water Issues
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Tim Quinn, retiring executive director of Association of California Water Agencies

ACWA Executive Director Tim Quinn  with a report produced by Association of California Water Agencies on  sustainable groundwater management.  (Source:  Association of California Water Agencies)In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.

Western Water Klamath River Watershed Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

California Leans Heavily on its Groundwater, But Will a Court Decision Tip the Scales Against More Pumping?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pumping near the Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate court ruling extending public trust doctrine to groundwater connected to rivers

Scott River, in Siskiyou County. In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.

Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.

Northern California Tour 2019
Field Trip - October 2-4

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Western Water Douglas E. Beeman

What Would You Do About Water If You Were California’s Next Governor?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Survey at Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit elicits a long and wide-ranging potential to-do list

There’s going to be a new governor in California next year – and a host of challenges both old and new involving the state’s most vital natural resource, water.

So what should be the next governor’s water priorities?

That was one of the questions put to more than 150 participants during a wrap-up session at the end of the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento.

Western Water California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Vexed by Salt And Nitrates In Central Valley Groundwater, Regulators Turn To Unusual Coalition For Solutions
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Left unaddressed, salts and nitrates could render farmland unsuitable for crops and family well water undrinkable

An evaporation pond in Kings County, in the central San Joaquin Valley, with salt encrusted on the soil. More than a decade in the making, an ambitious plan to deal with the vexing problem of salt and nitrates in the soils that seep into key groundwater basins of the Central Valley is moving toward implementation. But its authors are not who you might expect.

An unusual collaboration of agricultural interests, cities, water agencies and environmental justice advocates collaborated for years to find common ground to address a set of problems that have rendered family wells undrinkable and some soil virtually unusable for farming.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Could the Arizona Desert Offer California and the West a Guide to Solving Groundwater Problems?
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: Environmental Defense Fund report highlights strategies from Phoenix and elsewhere for managing demands on groundwater

Skyline of Phoenix, ArizonaAs California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.

Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

Novel Effort to Aid Groundwater on California’s Central Coast Could Help Other Depleted Basins
WESTERN WATER Q&A: Michael Kiparsky, director of UC Berkeley's Wheeler Water Institute, explains Pajaro Valley groundwater recharge pilot project

Michael KiparskySpurred by drought and a major policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of recovery.

Along the way, an army of experts has been enlisted to help characterize the extent of the problem and how the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is implemented in a manner that reflects its original intent.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Western Water California Water Bundle Gary Pitzer

Statewide Water Bond Measures Could Have Californians Doing a Double-Take in 2018
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Two bond measures, worth $13B, would aid flood preparation, subsidence, Salton Sea and other water needs

San Joaquin Valley bridge rippled by subsidence  California voters may experience a sense of déjà vu this year when they are asked twice in the same year to consider water bonds — one in June, the other headed to the November ballot.

Both tackle a variety of water issues, from helping disadvantaged communities get clean drinking water to making flood management improvements. But they avoid more controversial proposals, such as new surface storage, and they propose to do some very different things to appeal to different constituencies.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Northern California Tour 2018

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway. 

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Groundwater Replenishment

Groundwater replenishment happens through direct recharge and in-lieu recharge. Water used for direct recharge most often comes from flood flows, water conservation, recycled water, desalination and water transfers.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn Bowles

Enhancing California’s Water Supply: The Drive for New Storage
Spring 2017

One of the wettest years in California history that ended a record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage to be built above and below ground.

In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they are needed.

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Runoff

Snowmelt and runoff near the California Department of Water Resources snow survey site in the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento.Runoff is the water that is pulled by gravity across land’s surface, replenishing groundwater and surface water as it percolates into an aquifer or moves into a river, stream or watershed.

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Sinkholes

Sinkholes are caused by erosion of rocks beneath soil’s surface. Groundwater dissolves soft rocks such as gypsum, salt and limestone, leaving gaps in the originally solid structure. This is exacerbated when water is acidic from contact with carbon dioxide or acid rain. Even humidity can play a major role in destabilizing water underground. 

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Irrigation

Irrigation is the artificial supply of water to grow crops or plants. Obtained from either surface or groundwater, it optimizes agricultural production when the amount of rain and where it falls is insufficient. Different irrigation systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but in practical use are often combined. Much of the agriculture in California and the West relies on irrigation. 

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Freshwater

The United States Geographical Survey (USGS) defines freshwater as containing less than 1,000 milligrams per liter dissolved solids. However, 500 milligrams per liter is usually the cutoff for municipal and commercial use. Most of the Earth’s water is saline, 97.5 percent with only 2.5 percent fresh.

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Springs

Springs are where groundwater becomes surface water, acting as openings where subsurface water can discharge onto the ground or directly into other water bodies. They can also be considered the consequence of an overflowing aquifer. As a result, springs often serve as headwaters to streams.

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Potable Water

Photo of drinking water filling a glass over the kitchen sink. Potable water, also known as drinking water, comes from surface and ground sources and is treated to levels that that meet state and federal standards for consumption.

Water from natural sources is treated for microorganisms, bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter. Drinking raw, untreated water can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, vomiting or fever.

Announcement

Discover Hidden World of Subsidence on Upcoming Groundwater Tour
Early bird discount expires Tuesday

Extensometers are among the most valuable devices hydrogeologists use to measure subsidence, but most people – even water professionals – have never seen one. They are sensitive and carefully calibrated, so they are kept under lock and key and are often in remote locations on private property.

During our California Groundwater Tour Oct. 5-6, you will see two types of extensometers used by the California Department of Water Resources to monitor changes in elevation caused by groundwater overdraft.

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Mojave River

Flowing into the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave River exists mostly underground. Surface channels are usually dry absent occasional groundwater surfacing and flooding from extreme weather events like El Niño

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Alluvium

Alluvium generally refers to the clay, silt, sand and gravel that are deposited by a stream, creek or other water body.  Alluvium is found around deltas and rivers, frequently making soils very fertile. Alternatively, “colluvium” refers to the accumulation at the base of hills, brought there from runoff (as opposed to a water body). The Oxnard Plain in Ventura County is a visible alluvial plain, where floodplains have drifted over time due to gradual deposits of alluvium, a feature also present in Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County.

Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)

A man watches as a groundwater pump pours water onto a field in Northern California.A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the “management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.”

Western Water Magazine

The View From Above: The Promise of Remote Sensing
March/April 2015

This issue looks at remote sensing applications and how satellite information enables analysts to get a better understanding of snowpack, how much water a plant actually uses, groundwater levels, levee stability and more.

Publication

The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
A Handbook to Understanding and Implementing the Law

This handbook provides crucial background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook also includes a section on options for new governance.

Tour

Southern California Tour 2015
Field Trip (past)

Diamond Valley Lake. Photo by MWD

This 2-day, 1-night tour traveled through Inland Southern California to learn about the region’s efforts in groundwater management, recycled water and other drought-proofing measures.

Tour

Groundwater Tour 2015
Field Trip (past)

This 2-day, 1-night tour traveled from the Sacramento region to Napa Valley to view sites that explore groundwater issues. Topics  included groundwater quality, overdraft and subsidence, agricultural use, wells, and regional management efforts.

Publication California Groundwater Map

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2020

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater management and the extent to which stakeholders believe more efforts are needed to preserve and restore the resource.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater banking, a water management strategy with appreciable benefits but not without challenges and controversy.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

A Tale of Two Rivers: The Russian and the Santa Ana
May/June 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Russian and Santa Ana rivers – areas with ongoing issues not dissimilar to the rest of the state – managing supplies within a lingering drought, improving water quality and revitalizing and restoring the vestiges of the native past.

Western Water Magazine

Dealing with the ‘D’ Word: The Response to Drought
November/December 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines California’s drought – its impact on water users in the urban and agricultural sector and the steps being taken to prepare for another dry year should it arrive.

Western Water Magazine

An Expanded Role for Groundwater Storage
September/October 2007

Statewide, groundwater provides about 30 percent of California’s water supply, with some regions more dependent on it than others. In drier years, groundwater provides a higher percentage of the water supply. Groundwater is less known than surface water but no less important. Its potential for helping to meet the state’s growing water demand has spurred greater attention toward gaining a better understanding of its overall value. This issue of Western Water examines groundwater storage and its increasing importance in California’s future water policy.

Western Water Magazine

California Groundwater: Managing A Hidden Resource
July/August 2003

This issue of Western Water examines the issue of California groundwater management, in light of recent attention focused on the subject through legislative actions and the release of the draft Bulletin 118. In addition to providing an overview of groundwater and management options, it offers a glimpse of what the future may hold and some background information on groundwater hydrology and law.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Video

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Product

Go With the Flow: A Storm Water Pollution Prevention Message

This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12 about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.

Maps & Posters Groundwater Education Bundle

California Groundwater Map
Redesigned in 2017

California Groundwater poster map

Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface water.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2005 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use, Colorado River transfers and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication California Water Map

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.

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Seawater Intrusion

Seawater intrusion can harm groundwater quality in a variety of places, both coastal and inland, throughout California.

Along the coast, seawater intrusion into aquifers is connected to overdrafting of groundwater. Additionally, in the interior, groundwater pumping can draw up salty water from ancient seawater isolated in subsurface sediments.

Aquapedia background California Groundwater Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater

Groundwater Pollutants

barrel half-buried in the ground, posing a threat to groundwater.

The natural quality of groundwater in California depends on the surrounding geology and on the source of water that recharges the aquifer.

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Overdraft

Overdraft occurs when, over a period of years, more water is pumped from a groundwater basin than is replaced from all sources – such as rainfall, irrigation water, streams fed by mountain runoff and intentional recharge. [See also Hydrologic Cycle.]

While many of its individual aquifers are not overdrafted, California as a whole uses more groundwater than is replaced.

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Groundwater Treatment

The treatment of groundwater— the primary source of drinking water and irrigation water in many parts of the United States — varies from community to community, and even from well to well within a city depending on what contaminants the water contains.

In California, one-half of the state’s population drinks water drawn from underground sources [the remainder is provided by surface water].

Groundwater Management

Groundwater pump in California's Central ValleyGroundwater management is recognized as critical to supporting the long-term viability of California’s aquifers and protecting the nearby surface waters that are connected to groundwater.

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Groundwater Legislation

California has considered, but not implemented, a comprehensive groundwater strategy many times over the last century.

One hundred years ago, the California Conservation Commission considered adding  groundwater regulation into the Water Commission Act of 1913.  After hearings were held, it was decided to leave groundwater rights out of the Water Code.

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Groundwater Law

California, like most arid Western states, has a complex system of surface water rights that accounts for nearly all of the water in rivers and streams.

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Groundwater Banking

An aerial view of a groundwater bank

Groundwater banking is a process of diverting floodwaters or other surface water into an aquifer where it can be stored until it is needed later. In a twist of fate, the space made available by emptying some aquifers opened the door for the banking activities used so extensively today.

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Groundwater Adjudication

When multiple parties withdraw water from the same aquifer, groundwater pumpers can ask the court to adjudicate, or hear arguments for and against, to better define the rights that various entities have to use groundwater resources. This is known as  groundwater adjudication. [See also California water rights and Groundwater Law.]

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Groundwater California Groundwater Map

Groundwater

Groundwater pump in a Northern California farm field.

If California were flat, the volume of its groundwater would be enough to flood the entire state 8 feet deep. The enormous cache of underground water helped the state become the nation’s top agricultural producer. Groundwater also provides a critical hedge against drought to sustain California’s overall water supply.

In years of average precipitation, about 40 percent of the state’s water supply comes from underground. During a drought, the amount can approach 60 percent.

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Conjunctive Use

Conjunctive use is a catch-phrase for coordinated use of surface water and groundwater— literally going with the flow to maximize sufficient yield.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

For something so largely hidden from view, groundwater is an important and controversial part of California’s water supply picture. How it should be managed and whether it becomes part of overarching state regulation is a topic of strong debate.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

In early June, environmentalists and Delta water agencies sued the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) over the validity of the transfer of the Kern Water Bank, a huge underground reservoir that supplies water to farms and cities locally and outside the area. The suit, which culminates a decade-long controversy involving multiple issues of state and local jurisdictional authority, has put the spotlight on groundwater banking – an important but controversial water management practice in many areas of California.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

An Expanded Role for Groundwater Storage
September/October 2007

Groundwater, out of sight and out of mind to most people, is taking on an increased role in California’s water future.

Often overlooked and misunderstood, groundwater’s profile is being elevated as various scenarios combine to cloud the water supply outlook. A dry 2006-2007 water year (downtown Los Angeles received a record low amount of rain), crisis conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the mounting evidence of climate change have invigorated efforts to further utilize aquifers as a reliable source of water supply.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

California Groundwater: Managing A Hidden Resource
Jul/Aug 2003

When you drink the water, remember the spring. – Chinese proverb

Water is everywhere. Viewed from outer space, the Earth radiates a blue glow from the oceans that dominate its surface. Atop the sea and land, huge clouds of water vapor swirl around the globe, propelling the weather system that sustains life. Along the way, water, which an ancient sage called “the noblest of elements,” transforms from vapor to liquid and to solid form as it falls from the atmosphere to the surface, trickles below ground and ultimately returns skyward.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurgRita Schmidt Sudman

Conjunctive Use: Banking for a Dry Day
July/Aug 2001

Traditionally treated as two separate resources, surface water and groundwater are increasingly linked in California as water leaders search for a way to close the gap between water demand and water supply. Although some water districts have coordinated use of surface water and groundwater for years, conjunctive use has become the catchphrase when it comes to developing additional water supply for the 21st century.